Ministry of Love

The President’s Coming-Out Party

So now the process can be fully diagrammed, and the cast of characters is stunning. The torture system involves the operations division of the CIA on the implementation side. They rely heavily on contractors, it seems, in torturing people. And a special role is apparently played by a couple of psychologists. (Time used to be that healthcare professionals had an oath. It started “first, do no harm.” But, just like the Bible and the Constitution, that’s so pre-9/11. And with the American Psychological Association providing full cover, what’s the worry.)

We know that the Justice Department is right in the thick of it. Who precisely? The answer is most likely the Office of Legal Counsel—which has now emerged as what George Orwell called the “Ministry of Love” (remember: in Nineteen Eighty-Four that’s the ministry that picked and approved torture practices). But it doesn’t end with the opinion lawyers. The National Security Division is also in the thick of things, apparently. Alberto Gonzales, before he became attorney general, played station master for the initial series of torture memos. Once he landed at Justice, he kept a close watch on all torture issues and lied to Congress about it. With the attorney general’s office staking out a close interest in torture, it’s unlikely that others in the Department would have substituted their judgment for his. Thus the ball would seem to be squarely in Michael Mukasey’s court.

And finally the White House. David Addington, Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice and Stephen Hadley—these are all name we can now link directly to the torture system. Not just as a matter of theory. As a matter of practical application. They decided who would be tortured and how. And John B. Bellinger III, the man who keeps making a laughing-stock of himself with speeches on international law (as, for instance, when he tells us he can’t raise a legal objection to the idea of the Iranians waterboarding some captured American airman), who was legal counsel at NSC and continues now to hold that role with Condi Rice at State. He constantly issued assurances “off the record” to human rights groups and bar groups that we certainly don’t torture. And now it’s reasonably clear that he was right in the thick of the torture approval process all along.

There seems to be some question as to whether or not America tortures. I can think of a few ways to get to the bottom of the matter; Cheney, Rice, etc. for 18 months at a black site, which I understand is an intense hotel-resort-spa (at least according to Rush Limbaugh), and I’m sure we’d get to the bottom of the matter.

We know torture doesn’t work, but I say give it a shot on these guys anyway. It can’t hurt.

J.K.

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